July 21, 2017

"But if you can stand the ear-splitting music that renders 90 percent of the heavily accented dialogue incomprehensible..."

"... or follow what there is of the convoluted plot—or if you’re a fan of war and carnage in general—you won’t be bored."

Rex Reed, letting me off the hook on seeing "Dunkirk."

126 comments:

Etienne said...

Dunkirk was like the fall of Mosul.

Both preventable, 20 years ahead of time.

If Britain, France, and Belgium didn't invade the Ruhr in 1923, Hitler would have never written a book.

If the allies didn't impoverish Germany after the Great War, then Germany would have never been driven to conquest.

Same with the Sunni Moslems.

holdfast said...

I think Reed's vagina was showing in that review.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Who knew somebody named Etienne could be such a lickschnitzel?

Chuck said...

My favorite line about Rex Reed: Is Rex Reed the worst film critic alive, or he is the worst in history?

NC William said...

Hmm. Germany invaded France in 1870 and again in 1914. Another way of looking at the question would be that Germany has been driven to conquest, in one fashion or another, since it became "Germany."

rhhardin said...

English subtitles are usually necessary with Brits.

mockturtle said...

War and carnage, yes. Ear-splitting music that obscures the dialogue, no. Maybe I could watch it entirely in subtitles.

rhhardin said...

What I don't care for is dark scenes, which come up black on my monitor, at least if there's some vital plot displayed.

Rick Turley said...

Bad Lieutenant said...

"Who knew somebody named Etienne could be such a lickschnitzel?"

Did you mean sitzpinkler?

readering said...

Plan to see this evening in straight 70 mm (not IMAX). For a lighter take on Dunkirk try last year's Their Finest. You can use the subtitles on DVD if you like.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Hollywood has had a problem with musically obscured dialog for 20 years now. Nothing new.

chuck said...

I don't go to movies anyway, but I found the trailers unimpressive. The extended one, which was pointless and repetitive, gave the impression that there wasn't much to the movie.

Earnest Prole said...

Some great movies have been ruined by incompetently recorded and mixed sound -- Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate being a prime example. After watching lots of foreign movies with subtitles, I finally realized it was the best way to watch movies in English as well, particularly when the actors have an accent.

Etienne said...

Hey now, Althouse says this isn't a blog for personal attacks.

If you bully me I'm not going to cry, but your bully tactics can result in a forum that is no more interesting than a mud puddle.

De Gaulle: "...la chie-en-lit non" - Don't shit in your bed.

Bob Ellison said...

Disney is good at animation and audio.

There is a coming problem with Foley artistry, and with CGI. You can't keep lying to the consumer for ever and ever, and hope to get away with it.

WisRich said...

readering said...
Plan to see this evening in straight 70 mm (not IMAX). For a lighter take on Dunkirk try last year's Their Finest. You can use the subtitles on DVD if you like.

7/21/17, 2:04 PM
--------


Rented it last week. Enjoyed it.

Michael said...

Dorothy Rabonwitz takes the director of this movie to task in today'sWSJ. It appears that Winston Churchill goes unmentioned in the film. It also seems that there are very few allusions, including visuals, of the "enemy". The director, according to DR, wished to make the movie "universal" . meaning, of course, that any references to history and the heroism of Churchill cannot be uttered.

Ann Althouse said...

"After watching lots of foreign movies with subtitles, I finally realized it was the best way to watch movies in English as well, particularly when the actors have an accent."

Subtitles ruin the visual experience. Your eyes need to fix on the photographic details. To be continually called away to read words is ridiculous. I don't mind reading. I love reading. I prefer it. But why am I at a movie if not to see the movie and use my ears to get the words. It's ludicrous. I'll read the book. It would be better to overdub the actors' performance (as is done with cartoons).

clint said...

Sounds like his problem was with the sound balance in the theater where he saw it.

The movie itself is at 92%/89% on Rotten Tomatoes... so I still plan on seeing it next week.

Danno said...

I (like Althouse) will not see this movie, or any others because I don't want to support those smug progtards in Hollywood.

As to Dunkirk, I see it as historically significant. Without it, how could we have the term cheese-eating surrender monkeys?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

The movie's overwhelming whiteness is problematic and all those white males need to be woke to their privilege.

Nonapod said...

Cross-Cuts and a soundtrack that can sometimes drown out the dialogue? Sounds like Nolan. Also having a constantly running soundtrack that sprawls over multiple scenes, swelling and fading. As is the sort of muted washed out, almost sepia film (of course that's most modern war movies, but Nolan does it in everything). Actually I guess Nolan's one of the last big directors that still uses film at all.

readering said...

I've been watching foreign movies with subtitles for decades so I am used to the experience as part of what you get and prefer it to dubbing. (For a crazy dubbing experience see Mad Max, with a young Mel Gibson dubbed into American English.) Started watching English language dvds with subtitles with someone for whom English is second language and especially finds all the British Isles accents hard to follow. Not a problem.

johns said...

I see Etienne's point that he was attacked for having a viewpoint. Of course, when your viewpoint lets Germany off the hook entirely for WWII, by concluding that Germany was forced to attack France, it's pretty jaw-dropping.

johns said...

I don't want to see Dunkirk because it just focuses on the blood and guts. I already know how the story ends, just like Titanic.
Maybe young people will benefit from seeing the movie. My 20-year-old daughter, who is a dean's list science major at UCLA, said she wanted to see Dunkirk. She said she had no idea what Dunkirk was. So much for the fancy private high school. (My wife also said she didn't know what it was). but from Rex Reid's review, it seems they won't know much more after getting their ears blasted in the theater.

Sam L. said...

That's just HIS opinion. May be correct. May not.

rhhardin said...

I always use subtitles, if they're available, except for stuff I've rerun a lot where I know the lines.

Plot over visual experience.

Use the original language too, if it's not English, because the dubbed English won't match the subtitles, the one being optimized for lip reading and the other for translation.

Bay Area Guy said...

Oh No! I wanted to see it this weekend.

Hollywood did botch "Unbroken" -- will they botch another WW2 movie?

Best WWII movies:

Black Book
Midway
Torah, Torah, Torah
Saving Private Ryan
The Longest Day? (Too long of a movie).
Schindler's List


I probably forgot a lot more.

dustbunny said...

All foreign movies are dubbed in Spain and it is a painful experience. If an actor is good much of their performance is conveyed in the voice. The Spanish actors who dub all sound the same. Imagine seeing Forrest Gump in Spanish and you get the idea. I was told it was originally Franco who outlawed subtitles as he wanted 'Spanish only' in all areas of public life. I will only watch movies in other languages when there are subtitles.
I would also never follow Reed's advice.

rhhardin said...

Has Althouse seen Edge of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat

An invasion flick that's a romantic comedy with all the romantic comedy touchpoints left out. Noise and battle.

The guy and the feminist hero.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Somwhere (National Review?) recommended an Israeli movie. As god is my witness, I was sure Israeli movies would be in English. Not sure why I thought that.
It was 3 hours long with English subtitles.
I didn't have 3 hours to "read" a movie so it set on my counter for about 3 months until I had a chance to watch it.

Earnest Prole said...

To be continually called away to read words is ridiculous.

It works if you comprehend written sentences in an instant; it doesn't work if your mouth moves when you read.

buwaya said...

"I was told it was originally Franco who outlawed subtitles as he wanted 'Spanish only' in all areas of public life."

It may actually have been Mussolini.
But dubbing was standard Italian practice before the SCW anyway.
http://www.roderickconwaymorris.com/Articles/338.html

buwaya said...

"The Longest Day? (Too long of a movie)."

You wimp

rcocean said...

I was surprised that Rex is still alive and not liking anything.

I like war movies, so I'll probably see it, alone of course. None of the females of the family would be interested.

BTW, I was amazed at Reed's praise for "Saving Private Ryan" - I saw it recently and it doesn't hold up very well after 20 years.

Ann Althouse said...

EP, you are wrong. If one cares about visual art, the continual distraction is awful. The image is spoiled and the path of your eyes is over and over again pulled to the bottom of the screen. It's not about whether reading is hard or not. Also, most of the dialogue isn't even translated. You're not getting the true text. You're not able to match the words to the actor's lips and eyes. So much is lost. If it were about resistance to reading, I wouldn't say I'd rather read a book than see a movie. The point you are making is something I have found annoying for decades. You're acting as though you are superior because you can read quickly, but I want to say you are displaying inferiority because you do not value the visual art of film.

rcocean said...

"It would be better to overdub the actors' performance (as is done with cartoons)."

OMG! The horror, the horror.

*Theoretically*, one could produce a good "dubbing" of many foreign film masterpieces, but its never been done.

As a practical matter, the 'dubbing' is usually terrible. That's especially true of good Japanese anime - Disney and their awful 'murican voices and dumbed down dialog,

I'd rather read the dialog and listen to the French speak French, the Japanese speak Japanese, etc.

holdfast said...

The first 20 minutes or so of Saving Private Ryan is great, the rest is garbage - standard-issue Hollywood actors meandering around Normandy acting totally unlike US Army Rangers.

Bay Area Guy said...

Technically, "Exodus" with Paul Newman is a WW2 flick, so I would add that to my list. That was a classic.

As a military move, Dunkirk was an epic fuck-up, duh.

1. 9/1/39, Hitler invades Poland
2. 9/3/39, Britain and France declares war on Germany over the Polish invasion
3. Poland is 1,000 miles EAST of Britain
4. 5/26/40 (8 months later), the British army in Dunkirk (France) is not moving EAST to help Poland (or France), but fleeing back home across the English Chanel???!!!?

Say, Chap, YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!

The Brits were spectacular propagandists, so they spun it as the "Miracle of Dunkirk." I don't think the Poles who were slaughtered by Nazis moving East and Commies moving West thought much of these really late heroic rescue efforts, though.

Charlie Eklund said...

Clearly, the ideal way for a grown man to enjoy a movie with subtitles is to watch it while wearing shorts.

rcocean said...

"It's not about whether reading is hard or not. Also, most of the dialogue isn't even translated. You're not getting the true text. You're not able to match the words to the actor's lips and eyes"

Yeah, its not perfect, but you're getting as close as you can get. When a foreign language is dubbed you miss EVERYTHING! They don't get the tone right, and they dubbed voices are usually inferior to the original actors.

Disney for example, actually changes the script for several Japanese anime. It adds American "jokes" and "slang".

Bay Area Guy said...

Yeah, Saving Private Ryan is very tedious in long stretches of the middle. I reckon we were all mesmerized by the opening scenes.

@Buwaya,

The Longest Day is boring, sorry. I want to love it. It has many of my all-time favorite actors. Hmm. I don't think I've seen it in 30 years. Maybe, I should give it another shot, and just shut up.

rcocean said...

"The first 20 minutes or so of Saving Private Ryan is great, the rest is garbage - standard-issue Hollywood actors meandering around Normandy acting totally unlike US Army Rangers."

Exactly. Spielberg's whole career has been built on appealing to the lowest common denominator. Give people enough action, or sentiment, or thrills and spills, and the rest of the movie can be total horseshit.

rcocean said...

"The Longest Day is boring,"

Not to me. It holds up very well.

rcocean said...

BTW, I just realized that some "dubs" are better. If you've ever seen "Full Metal Jacket" its actually better in German.

The krauts are good at dubbing war movies

Mark said...

Technically, "Exodus" with Paul Newman is a WW2 flick

Technically, it is a post-war movie. With many Jewish characters who survived the death camps and many whose family did not.

And, no, the Jews did not attack at Pearl Harbor with the code words, "Torah, Torah, Torah." That was the Japanese. And they said - and the movie is entitled - Tora, Tora, Tora. But, yes, it is an excellent movie. Better than Midway.

Darrell said...

Just pretend, Ann, that it is My Dinner With Andre with something actually happening on the screen.

Darrell said...

Since people brought up the Longest Day--

When someone wrote to General Eisenhower in 1964 asking for an
explanation, his executive assistant Brigadier General Robert Schultz answered:
“General Eisenhower asked me to respond to your letter. Be advised that any
amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is
used

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeah, its not perfect, but you're getting as close as you can get. When a foreign language is dubbed you miss EVERYTHING! They don't get the tone right, and they dubbed voices are usually inferior to the original actors."

They could be better actors!

It's just a question of doing it well. Yes, there's bad dubbing. That's what people usually think about when they think about dubbing. But it can be done well.

But I know dubbing is worse than understanding the spoken language. There are alternatives, however, to dubbing and reading subtitles: 1. Learn more languages and 2. Avoid movies that aren't in one of the languages you know.

I hardly see any movies anymore. I just don't like being detained in a movie theater. So I'm almost never in the position of trying to figure out if I want to see something despite the subtitles. What would I have seen in the last 10 years? What have I missed that had subtitles?

buwaya said...

"The Longest Day is boring,"

"Not to me. It holds up very well."

Its on Netflix, you can watch it anytime.

mockturtle said...

Dorothy Rabonwitz takes the director of this movie to task in today'sWSJ. It appears that Winston Churchill goes unmentioned in the film. It also seems that there are very few allusions, including visuals, of the "enemy". The director, according to DR, wished to make the movie "universal" . meaning, of course, that any references to history and the heroism of Churchill cannot be uttered.

Not interested, then. Thanks, Michael.

MountainMan said...

I also thought the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" was great filmmaking, the rest of it just standard war movie. The best part of the film overall was that it took the making of a war movie to a new level of realism. It also gave birth to "Band of Brothers", which I think has been the best of HBO's mini-series. If you liked the first part of Ryan this one should be on your watch list, it is available on HBO GO as well as Amazon Prime. Two episodes are particularly good. Episode 2, "Day of Days", which covers the jump by the 101st into Normandy and the assault later that day to take out the 88s at Brecourt Manor. And Episode 9, "Why We Fight", which contrasts the bitterness and disillusionment of the men as the war is winding down with the discovery of a concentration camp. IMHO, one of the best hours of television ever produced. Most of it is accurate, with only a few liberties taken with the facts. The interviews with the actual men before or after each episode are very good as well.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Mark,

Heh - yeah I must've had my Hebrew wires crossed, Torah, Torah, Torah -- that is a goof!

You're probably right on the Exodus, too. The movie starts with the Jewish refugees on the ship -- the Exodus -- in 1947, which is 2 years after the war.

In my defense, the Book is broader -- Ari Ben Canaan served as an Officer in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army. That's where he learned all those skills.

I'm 0 for 2 -- although my heart was in the right place.

Etienne said...

johns said......when your viewpoint lets Germany off the hook entirely for WWII, by concluding that Germany was forced to attack France, it's pretty jaw-dropping.

I apologize, but maybe I have been misled. Wasn't it France, Britain, and Belgium that declared war on Germany?

Sorry, it was all before my time. All I know is what was in textbooks.

Seeing Red said...

I love The Longest Day.

Have Been Looking forward to Dunkirk since I saw the previews.

Seeing Red said...

Shoulda just let the Poles submit. Right Etienne?

h said...

Once I did ask an official at a movie theater to turn the volume down, and he (they) did. I keep waiting for some epidemiological evidence that people under (say) 35, and perhaps especially men and minorities in that age group, suffer from hearing damage more than people in the past.

Biotrekker said...

I wouldn't listen to Rex Reed. I believe he was the only critic on the planet to pan "Arrival". He called it a "waste of space' ha ha. So, there's something wrong with him either emotionally, or mentally.

rcocean said...

"I hardly see any movies anymore. I just don't like being detained in a movie theater. So I'm almost never in the position of trying to figure out if I want to see something despite the subtitles. What would I have seen in the last 10 years? What have I missed that had subtitles?"

All my foreign movie watching in the last 10 years has been on DVD. That's not really by choice however. I just seen several Japanese Anime that were good, and released in the last 10 years, but none of that I would recommend to anyone else. I can't imagine you liking "From Up On Poppy Hill" or Miyazaki! Too corny.

rcocean said...

People always hated Rex Reed because he would slam their favorite movie. I always loved his contrary attitude.

He was the anti-Gene Shalit.

Unknown said...

>Best WWII movies:
>
>Black Book
>Midway
>Torah, Torah, Torah
>Saving Private Ryan
>The Longest Day? (Too long of a movie).
>Schindler's List
>
>I probably forgot a lot more.
>

I am shocked, *shocked* to find an incomplete list of WWII movies in the Althouse casino!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

One of my favorite war movies is Das Boot but it is in German.

I don't mind subtitles. I can't hear well and my wife is not native English speaker. So we watch everything with subtitles.

Khesanh 0802 said...

It's hard to beat the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan for portraying what must have been the sheer terror and madness of making the Normandy landing - or any amphibious landing. SPR then descends into pretty standard fare, but its hard not to connect with the men who fought in Italy and then had to fight their way across Europe.

"The Pacific" mini series by Hanks and Spielberg is another masterpiece of examining war based on the history and memoirs of several Marines. Agree with Mountain Man about Band of Brothers being solid as well. That was based on the memories of those men as collected by Stephen Ambrose.

rcocean said...

"I apologize, but maybe I have been misled. Wasn't it France, Britain, and Belgium that declared war on Germany?"

Oh, well no. Belgium was neutral and so was Holland. But whatever. Anyway, you're right. The UK and France declared war on Hitler. So, you can blame Hitler for keeping WW2 going, but he really didn't start it.

But that's part of the British genius. They somehow cast themselves as the victims of aggression in every war they start.

William said...

I like movies with lots of explosions and special effects. I usually watch them on DVD in the Spanish language. That way I improve my language skills. I get smarter by watching movies like Transformers and The Fast and The Furious.......With the advent of stereo sound and HD tv, what's the advantage of seeing a movie in the theater?... As it has eventually turned out, Germany was the surprise winner of WWII. One out of sixteen people in Poland died during WWII. The best and brightest people in Poland were singled out for murder by both the Soviets and the Germans. There weren't any winners in WWII, but the Polish nation had, after the Jews, the most tragic losses.

Kevin said...

Rex hasn't liked anything directed by Nolan. As he's made some amazing films, I'll discount his review.

Earnest Prole said...

You're acting as though you are superior because you can read quickly, but I want to say you are displaying inferiority because you do not value the visual art of film.

The superiority shtick was just a leetle joke — hopefully more pricking forward than prick. Speaking seriously, I agree about valuing the visual art of film. A famous director (whose name I’ve forgotten) said, roughly, the great movies have such profoundly moving images and acting performances that they communicate just as powerfully with the sound turned off.

Big Mike said...

Mr. Reed is offended by British actors, who are portraying British soldiers, sailors, and civilians, speaking with a British accent? Quelle horreir!

Etienne said...

Seeing Red said...Shoulda just let the Poles submit. Right Etienne?

It's not as if the Poles hadn't been at war with their neighbors for 10 centuries.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

De Gaulle: "...la chie-en-lit non" - Don't shit in your bed.

Ha! I just realized that the French structure their language like Yoda.

Comanche Voter said...

Ah Etienne--I can forgive your revisionist views on Germany--poor oppresed folks--if they hadn't been treated so badly they never would have started WW II. Opinions are like noses, and everybody has one.


But I wasn't happy when you brought up Le Grande Fromage, aka Charles De Gaulle. To me mentioning that name gives rise to a stink in my nostrils---that pompous pontificiating putz always smelled like moldy Limburger cheese.

As for Dunkirk and Saving Private Ryan? In one movie soldiers are wading amidst corpses as they try to get off a beach. in the other soldiers are wading amidst corpses as they try to get on and take a beach.

But had Dunkirk--or at least the somewhat successful evacuation at Dunkirk, never occurred, there wouldn't have been much left of the British Army. One reason that Bernard Law Montgomery was such a ditherer in Northern Europe in 1944-45 was that he was commanding what was literally the last British Army. Eisenhower had a better manpower situation--but the US Army fed in its last remaining divisions to Europe in January 1945. There weren't any new supplies of manpower left on the training bases in the USA.

Seeing Red said...

Or any of them, Etienne.

Which is why some of our ancestors preferred to cross dangerous oceans and face the unknown instead of staying there.

mockturtle said...

Aside from my favorite, Tora! Tora! Tora!, which I watch every December 7 and know every line by heart, including many of the lines in Japanese, my late husband and I enjoyed Zulu, even though Michael Caine was miscast. The Four Feathers was a good one, too. The Longest Day is a classic with a good cast. Who could not enjoy it? I've always preferred war movies to westerns, with the exception of some of the Eastwood 'spaghetti' classics.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Torah, Torah, Torah" -- a renegade squadron of Jewish Rabbinical students in Palestine, go undercover as pilots to join Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor to create the necessary casus belli to get the US into war to help fight the Nazis.

mockturtle said...

I will concede to Etienne that the Treaty of Versailles was beyond draconian and was the single greatest initial cause of the rise of Nazism. But I will never concede the rest. Germany warned the invaded countries that they could avoid war by simply letting the Germans take over. Some had little choice. I shall forever be proud of Britain and the US for taking on this monumental challenge and pray we should do similarly if a future occasion should arise.

mockturtle said...

Bay Area Guy proposes: "Torah, Torah, Torah" -- a renegade squadron of Jewish Rabbinical students in Palestine, go undercover as pilots to join Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor to create the necessary casus belli to get the US into war to help fight the Nazis.

That would make a great movie. Mel Brooks?

mockturtle said...

Per DBQ: De Gaulle: "...la chie-en-lit non" - Don't shit in your bed.

Reminds me of a joke. Guy checks into a Mexican hotel and notices the bed lacks sheets.
He calls the desk and demands, "I want a sheet on my bed!" Clerk replies, "You sheet on your bed, I keel you!".

Bay Area Guy said...

You know who wrote a really good book about WW2? Pat Buchanan -- Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.

Buchanan's thesis (which I don't quite buy) was that Hitler was mostly gung ho about having a final showdown with Stalin over Europe. The two big bullies (Germany and Russia) were destined for a big fight, and everything else, including the Polish Guarantee, the Hitler-Stalin pact, and Polish invasion) were just small preludes to that epic eventual fight.

And, according to Buchanan, it would have been better to simply let those two evil regimes battle it out to the death, without our picking a side.

It's an interesting theoretical construct, with the benefit of hindsight. Not quite persuasive though.

Etienne said...

Comanche Voter said......Le Grande Fromage, aka Charles De Gaulle

I can't say anything bad against him, he was the Godfather of my cousin in France. Course, he probably played that role many times.

Alas, no one ever wants me to be their child's Godfather... sniff...

grackle said...

The best WW2 movie is “From Here to Eternity.” Burt Lancaster was perfect as the Sgt. Borgnine was great as Fatso, the cruel guard. Sinatra gave the performance of his life. Ditto, Monty Cliff.

There are no battle scenes whatsoever but I’ve never seen a more accurate account of military life.

The movie is a faithful rendition of the book by James Jones. Who is James Jones?

James Jones is who Norman Mailer wanted to be – the writer who wrote the definitive novel of WW2.

rcocean said...

"my late husband and I enjoyed Zulu, even though Michael Caine was miscast. The Four Feathers was a good one, too."

Yep, Zulu is great. "The thin red line". And agree, about Caine. IRC, he was supposed to be some sort of English Toff Officer, but can't pull it off. The 4 feathers is great. Great color and scenery. And of course with the great C. Aubrey Smith.

"Guns, Guns, Guns." Puts walnuts in a line - on the table. "And there I was". Puts Pineapple on table. "And there was the General". Puts an orange.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Whatever else you may think about the Uk and France declaring war on Hitler, it was a big mistake.

It led to the conquest of Poland, Norway, Denmark, France, Holland, and Belgium, the battle of Britain, the blitz, and the occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece.

If the Russians had been less brave and skilled, or if Hitler had made fewer mistakes, he would have controlled almost all of Europe from the Urals to the North sea.

Even as it was, it was a "a damn close-run thing." and ended up Killing 300,000 Americans.

John said...

You want war movies? Germany, France, Britain, russia?

BBC made a 20 part miniseries of war and peace in 1972. I watched it a couple weeks ago while on my nightly bike rides stationary, of courze. I am rewatching the whole thing again this week as i travel.

I had a hard time the first 4-5 eps figuring out the characters and relationships but it is absolute terrific. Download from YouTube.

I also downloaded and am reading the book. I figured it would be as dreadful as someother Russian stuff I've tried to read.

Not at all. I am finding it very readable and engrossing. Now i am wonderi g why ittook me so long to discover this book. Are Tolstoys other books this good?

John Henry

mockturtle said...

Grackle says: Sinatra gave the performance of his life

Yep, that was the part his godfather got for him, wasn't it?

Etienne said...

mockturtle said......Germany warned the invaded countries that they could avoid war by simply letting the Germans take over.

Germany knew full well the Brits and the French wouldn't roll over. It's not like they hadn't been down this road before.

After Lindbergh toured Germany, and picked-up a few more mistresses, he came back to advise Congress, that Britain was unprepared for the war machine that he saw.

Where Germany screwed-up (one of many), was they didn't invade Britain immediately after the bombing campaign started. They could have easily brought in 1000 tanks and artillery pieces every day, and the Brits would be serving them cake and tea after 6-months.

Even their radar and IFF was superior to the Brits. They easily wiped-out the 8th Air Force, until the advent of long range fighter escort.

John said...

Reason i was watching war and peace was because I had recently read a history of the french invasion of Russia.

1812 napoleons fatal march on Moscow by Adam zamoyski. Great detailed account, very well written. Zamoyski is some sort of polish count and does have some anti Russian bias. Enough to be noticable but not enough to harm the book.

Available via Ann's portal

John Henry

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Known Unknown said...

Nolan is a technocratic filmmaker who excels and story structure and aesthetics but falls way short on emotional context, subtext, and well-developed characters. Take for example Inception — by the end, I didn't care if DiCaprio saw his kids or not, as they were treated as an abstract concept to even him.

I suspect more of the same in Dunkirk.

Matthew Blaine said...

The preview has airplanes shooting up boats full of boys, and boys swimming away from a sinking hospital ship. Will not be able to watch.

Last war movie I saw was Hacksaw Ridge, and it was so realistic, with piles of entrails and heads split open.

My main interest in Dunkirk is will teenage girls go see it because of Harry Styles.

mockturtle said...

Etienne asserts: Where Germany screwed-up (one of many), was they didn't invade Britain immediately after the bombing campaign started. They could have easily brought in 1000 tanks and artillery pieces every day, and the Brits would be serving them cake and tea after 6-months.

My late British husband agreed on this point [except for the last bit]. Hitler seemed to think he could work our some kind of alliance with Britain and it was a bit of a mystery why he didn't invade.

Known Unknown said...

The best WW2 movie I have seen is The Best Years of Our Lives.

Yes, technically it is a post-war movie, but the subject matter is all about the lives of men who fought.



rcocean said...

"After Lindbergh toured Germany, and picked-up a few more mistresses, he came back to advise Congress, that Britain was unprepared for the war machine that he saw."

Yeah, and he was right. At the time.

But Lindbergh was wrong! Declaring war on Nazi Germany in Sept 1939 was the greatest thing ever! So, what if resulted in 30 million dead - and just by pure luck didn't result in Hitler controlling all of Europe.

I'm sure you'd kill yourself right now if it'd stop another Hitler. Right?

Michael said...

Etienne/mockturtle
Hitler lost his nerve and halted the advance. Had he not there would have been no Dunkirk; the entire BEF would have been killed or captured leaving the defense of the island to the residents and residual military. But it would not have been a six month effort as the British are not French. Post Dunkirk there was still time for the Germans to cross the channel and invade but the risks were considerable at that point. By Fall it was too late.

tonyg said...

Dunkirk - Excellent. Thought provoking. Already have tickets for another showing.
A near silent movie, and that approach works. If possible, see it at a real Imax in 70MM.

I am both a history buff and movie snob.

grackle said...

Are Tolstoys other books this good?

Yes. In my opinion Tolstoy was the greatest novelist who ever lived. To some extent this is due to how well the novels translate into other languages.

Here’s some of Wiki’s material:

Virginia Woolf declared him "the greatest of all novelists."James Joyce noted that, "He is never dull, never stupid, never tired, never pedantic, never theatrical!". Thomas Mann wrote of Tolstoy's seemingly guileless artistry: "Seldom did art work so much like nature". Such sentiments were shared by the likes of Proust, Faulkner and Nabokov.

Tolstoy never disappoints.

Scott said...

Michael said...

Etienne/mockturtle
Hitler lost his nerve and halted the advance. Had he not there would have been no Dunkirk; the entire BEF would have been killed or captured leaving the defense of the island to the residents and residual military. But it would not have been a six month effort as the British are not French. Post Dunkirk there was still time for the Germans to cross the channel and invade but the risks were considerable at that point. By Fall it was too late.

7/21/17, 6:13 PM


Actually there's a even simpler reason for the pause. Specifically the Panzers who had broke through in the Ardennes and then reached the Channel at Calais had outrun their supply lines. Remember that the vast bulk of the German logistics train was either rail-driven (which they could not use because they had no control over key rail hubs such as Lille at this point) or horse-drawn, no different from WWI. This, incidentally is why the US army ground to a halt in mid-1944 on the German border, the forward units were out of fuel/ammunition and it took time for more to be shipped up from Normandy and then Antwerp once the port was secured.

Without fuel or ammunition, a Panzer division suddenly becomes a very badly trained and under-strength light infantry division. The Germans had to pause to secure their supply lines, reprovision their forward units, and secure their flanks against counterattacks, such as the one that happened on May 21, 1940 at Arras. In addition, the units used at Dunkirk would later be called upon for the second hgalf of the operation, namely striking south to deal with the bulk of the French Army and take Paris (with several major river barriers in the way such as the Seine).

As for the invasion of England, in order for it to come off, the Germans needed to get air superiority (if using paratroops) and naval superiority in the Channel and North Sea. Without this, any invasion force would have been target practice for the RAF and Royal Navy. Needless to say, they did not, and the presence of the English Channel precluded any attack by the dominant German land forces.

For a more in-depth analysis of the Dunkirk 'pause', I refer you to this article.

https://www.swwresearch.com/single-post/2017/05/15/The-Dunkirk-Evacuation-and-the-German-%E2%80%98halt%E2%80%99-Order

Scott said...

Etienne said...

mockturtle said......Germany warned the invaded countries that they could avoid war by simply letting the Germans take over.

Germany knew full well the Brits and the French wouldn't roll over. It's not like they hadn't been down this road before.


Funny, the primary documents differ. For example, from the diary of General Alfred Jodl (Chief of the Operations Staff) dated September 29th, 1938, the day of the Munich Pact being signed that started the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia over British and French guarantees to the Czechs:

"The Pact of Munich is signed. Czechoslovakia as a power is out... The genius of the Fuhrer and his determination not to shun even a World War have again won the victory without the use of force. The hope remains that the incredulous, the weak and the doubtful people have been converted, and will remain that way."

Again, remember this timeline:

September 29, 1938: Hitler pushes the annexation of the Sudetenland border region from Czechoslovakia on behalf of the Sudeten German minority. Britain and France back down from their alliance with the Czechs and sign the Munich Agreement. In it Hitler says that this is the absolute last territorial adjustment he will push for.

March 16, 1939: Hitler breaks the Munich Agreement, sending troops into the remains of Czechoslovakia to occupy it and reform it as the Reichsprotectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

March 31, 1939: Britain and France sign a military alliance with Poland.

August 22, 1939: Hitler gives a secret speech to his generals, with the following quote, "The object of the war is … physically to destroy the enemy. That is why I have prepared, for the moment only in the East, my 'Death's Head' formations with orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need.

August 23, 1939: Nazi Germany and the USSR sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. One secret clause of this is the partition of Polish territory in the upcoming war.

September 1, 1939: Hitler declares war on Poland, after faking a border incident. WWII begins in Europe.

September 3, 1939: France and Britain declare war on Germany as per the terms of their military alliance.

September 13, 1939: Polish capital of Warsaw is put under siege.

September 17, 1939. USSR invades Poland, Polish military position is hopeless.

The only thing that the French or to a much lesser degree the British could have done to help Poland would have been to immediately attack into western Germany. With their armies not mobilized for war at the start of September, and through fortified German fortress likes (the Siegfried Line). Keep in mind that the last time either country tried to attack dug in fortress lines it cost both of them several million casualties in WWI.

October 6, 1939: Poland surrenders.

Michael K said...

"I probably forgot a lot more."

Like "12 o'clock High" which is a terrific movie and is largely non-fiction. The screen writers were there in the group headquarters.

"The Longest Day" has a few corny parts like John Wayne but is very true in almost all details.

I have spent a week visiting all the locations and it was extremely accurate. For example, Richard Todd, who plays Major Harris at Pegasus Bridge in D-Day, was actually in the British 6th Airborne Division and landed on D-Day although at a different site.

The town of San Mere Eglise has the Red Burtons parachute hanging from the church roof.

For unintelligible English accents I like "Gosford Park," which purposefully made them so. I don't know if even British natives can understand it.

Tari said...

@Mountain Man and @Khesahn right - Band of Brothers is outstanding. The first thing I saw that made me like Tom Hanks. @johns, show that miniseries to your daughter. My 17 year old son loved it, even though for a young person it is a little hard to watch.

Talking about Spanish movies being dubbed reminds me of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Very funny, even with subtitles - and a young Antonio Banderas to boot. Not my type, but your mileage may vary.

An interesting book take on Dunkirk was in Connie Willis' Blackout. Fictional (obviously: she writes sic fi) but excellent. Don't blame me if you get sucked into reading the whole thing and the 2nd volume, All Clear. Fabulous, like all her stuff.

I doubt I'll see the movie Dunkirk in the theater - everything is always too loud. Subtitles at home sounds right to me. I did that the first time I watched Gosford Park - couldn't understand a word otherwise, just like Michael K says.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Scott,

"Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need."

Good timeline. The significance of Hitler's above statement is the key. "Lebensraum" - Hitler wanted to re-conquer lands EAST, particularly German speaking enclaves which he believed had been wrongly taken after WW1.

It was a like a German vision of our "Manifest Destiny" (moving across the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean.)

But it could not be accomplished without an inevitable conflict with Russia.

The point is Hitler's strategic objective was not to conquer France and Britain West, but to create a greater Germany in the East. The little rump of Czechosolvakia (Sudetenland) he hornswoggled from Chamberlain had tons of ethnic Germans. And Poles were practically German too.

traditionalguy said...

FTR the Dunkirk Miracle happened ONLY because Winston Churchill ordered it to be done. That was another one of his do the right thing moments that made him so totally different from the other 99% of the politicians always looking for a way to face save or blame another.

Bad Lieutenant said...

"It appears that Winston Churchill goes unmentioned in the film."

I heard the "fight on the beaches" speech in an ad. I would incline to give it a chance. Rex Reed - Chuck, OK, I won't piss on you today, that was a good one - but who knows whether even the humble movie review is corrupted by The Narrative?

CWJ said...

"And Poles were practically German too."

Say what?

Bay Area Guy said...

Say what?

Lech Walesa recently said the Poland and Germany should form one country:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/10330826/Poland-and-Germany-should-unite-says-Lech-Walesa.html

mockturtle said...

"And Poles were practically German too."

Yeah, that's why the Germans killed so many of them. ???

Bay Area Guy said...

Family squabble - similar to North fighting South in US civil war.

Mark Daniels said...

What stunned me about this post is that I had no idea that Rex Reed was still living.

mockturtle said...

Family squabble - similar to North fighting South in US civil war.

Surely you're not serious. Hitler believed the Slavs, just like the Jews, to be inferior peoples and had no qualms about killing them all and taking their land,

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

The point is Hitler's strategic objective was not to conquer France and Britain West, but to create a greater Germany in the East. The little rump of Czechosolvakia (Sudetenland) he hornswoggled from Chamberlain had tons of ethnic Germans. And Poles were practically German too.

Actaully, not quite true. Hitler reannexed Alsace-Lorraine from the French 1940-1945 (this was the chunk of France ont he border that had a lot of german speakers like the Sudetenland and the Danzig corridor. Observe the light blue and light green areas next to France on this map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gau_Westmark#/media/File:NS_administrative_Gliederung_1944.png

That's Alsace-Lorraine as part of the German state. So even if France had stayed out of the attack on Poland, Hitler still had a perfectly good causus belli against them identical to that he had used in 1938 and 1939. As for Britain, it has long been their strategic policy to have no one power control Europe (dating back to at least the 1700s).

As for Nazi treatment of the Poles, it was incredibly brutal. starting with them kidnapping 'Aryan looking' Polish children to be raised as proper Germans and ethnic cleansing of 'Slavic elements' from West Poland which was to be repopulated with Germans. Note all the chunks of Poland which had become part of Germany?

The Holocaust was especially bad in Poland for...well a variety of historical reasons. That said, roughly the same number of non-Jewish ethnic Poles were killed by the Germans as Polish Jews. Not to mention the USSR committed their own list of atrocities. The best estimate is approximately 20% of the Polish pre-war population perished 1939-45, so I really would advise against saying that Poles and Germans are close. Unless you want some Polish folks to take offense to that, probably physically.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties_of_Poland

William said...

This is not a scientific survey, but the Polish people I've met were far more hostile to the Russians than to the Germans. This may be due to the fact that Russia occupied their country for two generations and just recently. Historically the Russians have been screwing over the Poles for centuries......Hitler happened, and that says something about the German people. Still, I would argue that he's a one off and not some inevitable expression of the German soul. The Russians are forever producing leaders like Stalin. Stalin probably isn't even the worst ruler in Russian history. The Germans will never top Hitler.

Jason said...

I'm now two thirds of the way through a British docudrama currently on Britbox. It's outstanding. I plan to see the feature film version in theaters this week.

My grandfather flew on the Regensburg mission. He also worked on the staff of BG Fred Castle, one of two possible role models for the protagonist in 12 O'Clock High. Castle received a Medal of Honor for his final fatal mission, and my grandfather spoke admiringly of the man for the rest of his life.

12 O'Clock High was by far his favorite war movie, and the only one he thought captured what things were like in the 8th Army Air Force at the time. Somehow I never saw the movie all the way through until quite recently. It's now among my very favorite movies, ever. As a study in combat command and leadership, it's without peer.

It was released in the 40s, so its audience would have been largely WWII veterans. So they couldn't get away with much.

Back to the British docudrama on Dunkirk... it's also a terrific look at the leadership and decision-making processes of some of the key leaders involved, including Churchill (arguing down Chamberlain, Atlee and Halifax who supported trying to get a peace deal through the Italians), the naval staff officer who was sent ashore to coordinate the evacuation, the British BEF Commanding General and some small unit leaders... a platoon leader and a couple of sergeants. Very highly recommended.

PresbyPoet said...

Some corrections. Even if no one escapes from France, it is not going to be easy to invade. As long as the British Navy exists a naval invasion will fail. For a real life example in 1941, the Germans had to turn aside and take care of Greece before attacking the Soviet Union. After easily taking the Greek mainland, the Germans attacked Crete. The forces invading by sea were wiped out. The only reason the Germans won was they used their only airborne division to land and capture air bases to land troops by plane.

That attack destroyed the only German airborne force. One airborne division is not enough to capture air bases in England. Any forces trying to sail that "narrow" channel will die by the thousands. The German plan was for a narrow frontage landing, the few soldiers who didn't become fish food would face a meat grinder.

The one way a landing might have had a significant impact is all the ship damage the British would take defending. This would have later reduced the number of escorts to protect the vital shipping Britain needed to survive. If the Germans had built more subs earlier, the wolf packs would have starved Britain. So a failed invasion might have forced peace. All Hitler needed was for the British to stop fighting. He didn't want to fight them. He was always looking east.

We found it isn't easy to invade by sea. In Italy, Anzio was nearly a complete failure. The Germans almost drove us back into the sea, even with our air and sea superiority. It took months before we made it to Rome. August 1942 the US Navy abandoned (for a time)the Marines who had landed on Guadalcanal.

We had our own meatgrinders on many Pacific islands. There we had total air and naval superiority (Layte excluded),once we ground down the Japanese at Guadalcanal. Iron Bottom Sound is well named. We were lucky at Savo Island the Japanese didn't stay to wipe out the landing ships. World War II is full of what ifs on all sides.

readering said...

Just saw Dunkirk. Dorothy Rabinowitz must have left before the end.

Craig Howard said...

I wanted to see it, too -- still may.

But I read another review yesterday that changed my mind (Reed's I took with a grain of salt).

Apparently, the context of the evacuation was left out of the film -- intentionally. The Germans are referred to throughout as "the enemy." A young person with the now-typical ignorance of history would know these were the dreaded Nazis.

Winston Churchill is never mentioned, either, nor are any politicians.

This is all by design, of course, but it seems sterile.

Craig Howard said...

wouldn't know these were Nazis

Anniella said...

Churchill is not mentioned by name, but his "We shall fight on the beaches" speech is read aloud (from a newspaper) by a main character at the very end of the film. So, it's not a history lesson, but it has resonance for viewers with even a little knowledge of history. Other context is there, also, but piecemeal, explained to and overheard by various characters, if you're paying attention. That Rex Reed review is ridiculously fussy.

Unknown said...

Bay Area guy,
Battleground. Definitely has aspects done in Saving Private Ryan. Single small unit. Fighting more for each other than any particular cause. Gradually losing friends along the way. Paratroopers.

readering said...

Kenneth Branagh (senior officer) character repeatedly utter's Churchill's name and through dialogue with other senior officer character updates audience on big picture, but as some have noted the sound is hard to make out often.

Kevin said...

The best war film isn't a film, it's a tv miniseries. Band of Brothers.

LCB said...

Might be considered a spoiler listed below...

Saw Dunkirk today. Never thought I'd say this, but it was a beautifully done movie. This movie more of a "painting" than a "photograph", with things done in broad strokes. And I've never heard of 3 time lines in a movie done in the way they were here: 1 week with the characters from the Mole, 1 day with the characters with the boat and 1 hour with the RAF fighter pilots. Toward the end all 3 timelines mess for a bit...then come apart again.

The 3 time lines did get somewhat confusing until I realized the the minesweepers that kept getting sunk were all various viewpoints of the same ship sinking. And no, that's not a plot spoiler. It's just a device to let all 3 timelines focus on one "thing".

The audio was a bit loud, but I never had an issue with it drowning out the dialogue. The bass was way too loud, but I wonder if that's because we saw it in a theater that had recliners with bass woofers in the seats.

LCB said...

MERGE for a bit...ugh...

Unknown said...

I just saw it. Music was oppressive at times. As it is in most everything nowadays. The traditional storyline is that the British army maintained great discipline during the evacuation as a whole. The movie seems to focus on soldiers who did not. Some remaining survivors may not like that. I'm sure that there were some soldiers doing whatever they could to survive, but I'm sure they wouldn't have pulled it off if everyone behaved that way ! RAF and Navy, and civilian sailors came across pretty well.

The Genius Savant said...

I have no idea what movie Rex Reed watched but the Dunkirk I watched had no relationship to his mind-boggling review of a masterpiece. I'm also surprised Althouse would dismiss a movie based on a single reviewer. The score was integral to the film, don't understand complaints about. I suspect there's a lot of being-a-contrarian-for-its-own-sake going on in the face of nearly universal positive reviews and a better than expected opening weekend.

The Genius Savant said...

I also meant to say I found Rex Reed's to be the most wrong review since Harry Knowles gave Attack of the Clones a ridiculously positive review upon its release. Both are embarrassing.